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New bishop reflects on earthly protectors during Blue Mass at St. Anthony Church

PROTECTORS REMEMBERED — Members of St. Anthony Catholic Church and guests prayed for emergency first responders, health care workers and members of the military at a Blue Mass celebrated Tuesday by the Most Rev. Mark Brennan, center, bishop of the Wheeling-Charleston Catholic Diocese. (Photo by Warren Scott)

FOLLANSBEE — The new bishop of the Wheeling-Charleston Catholic Diocese offered encouragement to first responders as well as prayers for them at a Blue Mass held Tuesday at St. Anthony Catholic Church.

The visit is among many the Most Rev. Mark Brennan plans to take to churches in the statewide diocese since his appointment to the position by Pope Francis in July.

The bishop, whose late parents chose to spend their retirement years in the Mountain State, told members and visitors at the church that while driving in West Virginia, he often has been impressed by its beauty.

He added it also is a reminder of the great variety of God’s creation, a variety that includes living things ranging from plants to humans to the angels that fall between us and the “pure, infinite spirit” of God.

Brennan said the archangels Michael, Raphael and Gabreal were sent to protect humans and can serve as a model for our world’s earthly protectors, including police, firefighters, health care workers and members of the military.

“They protect us from harm. Their presence helps to stem crime,” he said, adding, “Sometimes they have to risk their health and lives to protect others.”

Brennan said the actions of some law enforcement officers don’t reflect all.

“It’s true. There are some bad apples,” he said, adding that every field includes those who serve as the worst examples of their professions.

“But the bad apples aren’t the whole story, my friends. There are a lot more good apples among them,” Brennan said.

Known for his work with the poor while serving churches in Washington, D.C. and Maryland, Brennan said people in poor neighborhoods don’t want the police defunded.

“They want more and better protection,” he said.

Brennan told local law enforcement officers, firefighters and ambulance personnel attending the Mass “to hold your heads high. You are in noble professions. Never let anyone take that from you.”

Brennan encouraged them to let the archangels inspire them and their prayers guide them.

Assisting Brennan were the Rev. Jude Perera of St. Anthony Catholic Church and the Rev. Arul Anthony of St. John Catholic Church of Wellsburg.

Attendees were invited to partakes of refreshments provided with support from the Follansbee Chamber of Commerce at St. Francis Centre.

(Scott can be contacted at wscott@heraldstaronline.com.)

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